October Birthstones

October is lucky to have 2 beautiful gemstones as its birthstone, Opal and Tourmaline.

Opal

Opal solitaire ring, opal, sarah hickey jewellery

The name Opal is believed to originate in India, where in Sanskrit it was called unpalatable, “a precious stone” and then becoming opalus in Ancient Rome.  

Opals “play of colour” describes the enchanting shifting colours visible as you move the gemstone in the light.  This play of colour has led to opals having an interesting history.  Bedouins once thought opals held lightening and fell from the sky during thunder storms.  Ancient Greeks believed opals bestowed the gift of prophesy and protection from disease.  Europeans valued opals to be a symbol of purity, hope and truth.  Opals were once believed to embody the virtues of all coloured stones.

Owing to its signature play of colour, every opal is 100% unique and can be as diverse as a fingerprint or a snowflake. This is what makes opal jewelry a great present for someone you love (yes, that includes yourself).

It takes 5 million years to produce 1cm of it.  Opal is a type of quartz with tiny silicon spheres inside it.  These spheres contain a little water which help the spheres reflect light in different ways.  The high water content means that opals can crac or dry out.  

As light travels through the spheres, all colours on the visible spectrum may appear.  By moving the opal to different angles it will display brighter or darker colours, people compare the colours that opals make to fireworks or lightning.

As seen in Sarah’s own incredible Opal ring here!

Opals are found all over the world, however the fields of Australia are the most productive.  Lightening ridge, a small town in New South Wales is famed for producing prized black opal.  Where as white opals are found in the white cliffs area of New South Wales, as well as Mintabie, Andamooka and Coober Pedy in South Australia, and boulder opal only comes from one location in the world, in Queensland.  

Opals may be treated by impregnating with oil, wax or plastic.  Opal doublets or triplets are fine slices of opal glued to a base material and covered with a thin dome of clear quartz.  The safest way to clean opals is with warm soapy water.  Opals are fragile and can easily fracture. 

The opal is also the gemstone to celebrate 14th wedding anniversaries.

Shop SHJ Opal here!

Tourmaline

The name tourmaline comes from the Sinhalese word toramalli which means “stone with mixed colours” as it often has multiple colours in one crystal.  

Ancient mystics believed that tourmaline could inspire artistic expression.  Among the most popular colours are the pink and red, the emerald green ‘chrome’ tourmalines and the neon green and blue to violet ‘paraiba’ tourmalines.  Ancient Egyptians believed that tourmaline had such an impressive variety of hues because it broke through a rainbow while pushing its way up to the Earth. During this journey, it gathered all the beautiful colours.  Because of the vast array of colours found, tourmaline was often mistaken for other gemstones.

The different colours are thought to have their own healing properties.  Black is believed to protect the wearer and give a sense of self confidence.  Pink embodies love and is associated with compassion and gentleness,.  Green promotes courage, strength and stamina.  

Pleochroism:  This is a unique characteristic that sets Tourmaline apart from other gemstones. When viewed from different angles, the colour in a single gemstone can appear to be completely different and may even showcase a separate set of hues.

Complex molecular structure:  This gemstone becomes electrically charged when rubbed or warmed by heat. When charged, it can attract dust and small paper scraps. When Dutch traders discovered this property, they used warmed Tourmaline to draw out ashes from their pipes and named the stone ‘Aschentrekker’, which meant ‘ash puller’.

There is a rare variety of tourmaline which exhibits a special reflection of light that resembles the eye of a cat. Due to this unique feature, this gemstone is known as ‘cat’s eye tourmaline’.

Tourmaline is most commonly found in Brazil, but is also found in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kenya, Madagascar and Mozambique, California and Maine in the USA.

Gems with abundant liquid inclusions can’t withstand heat treatment. Color changes due to irradiation can fade with exposure to heat or bright light. Warm, soapy water is the best method for cleaning tourmaline. The use of ultrasonic and steam cleaners is not recommended.

Tourmalines are also given to celebrate the 8th wedding anniversary.

Shop SHJ Tourmaline here!

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